New Delhi: In an apparent move to appease the main Opposition, the Bhartiya Janata Party, ahead of the Budget Session, Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde expressed regret over his
'saffron terror' remark on Wednesday.
In a brief statement by way of clarification, Shinde, who is also the Leader of the Lok Sabha, said his comment has created a "misunderstanding" and that he had no intention to link terrorism with any religion.
"Since controversy has been created on account of my statement, I am issuing this clarification and expressing regret to those who felt hurt by my statement," he said.
"My statement given in Jaipur last month has created a misunderstanding. It has been understood to mean that I was linking terrorism to a particular religion and was accusing certain political organisations of being involved in organising terror camps," he said.
"I had no intention to link terror to any religion. There is no basis for suggesting that terror can be linked to organisations mentioned in my brief speech in Jaipur," he added.
"I will continue to perform my duties to the best of my ability to ensure that harmony is maintained in the social fabric of India," Shinde said.
Earlier, staging a strong protest over Home Minister's 'saffron terror' remarks, BJP had said today that Shinde’s comments were part of a conspiracy to divide the nation for vote bank politics and had demanded an apology.
Stepping up attack on Shinde ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament starting tomorrow, BJP president Rajnath Singh questioned the Home Minister's intentions in making such a provocative statement.
"This comment of the Home Minister is part of a conspiracy to divide the nation for vote bank politics," Singh said, addressing a large number of protesting party workers at Parliament Street here today.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the Congress was indulging in "communal polarisation" through such remarks.
"The Congress and UPA vote bank is contracting. Shinde wants to divide the nation on the basis of religion. They are trying to indulge in communal polarisation. The Home Minister made this statement with the intention of dividing the nation for votes and seek the vote bank of a particular religion," Jaitley said, addressing the protesting partymen.
Jaitley questioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on how they have allowed such a Home Minister, who is giving Pakistan a reason to say that India is running terror camps, to function.
Singh also questioned the intentions of Shinde to make such provocative comment and appealed to the countrymen "to understand the conspiracy behind making such a statement."
A month ago, Shinde using the platform of Congress Party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur had said, "We have got an investigation report that, be it the RSS or BJP, their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism.” Needless to say this remark by the Home Minister evoked a strong reaction both from the BJP and the RSS. The BJP has been relentlessly attacking Shinde since then and seeking his apology and resignation.
The BJP had categorically said that they would raise the matter in Parliament, raising fears amongst Congress leaders that the Budget Session would be a stormy affair.
However, with important legislations pending, the Congress was keen that the House runs smoothly. Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh said today in the national capital, "This session of Parliament is going to transact important financial business before the House and it is our sincere hope that we will have a productive, constructive debate leading to agreed solutions to the many national problems that our country faces."
Shinde's statement on the eve of Budget Session can be seen as a climbdown for the Congress party and a victory of sorts for the BJP.
Shortly after Shinde expressed regret, BJP welcomed it but said it ought to have come much earlier.
"The delay had created a condition which gladdened the hearts of terrorists and their patrons in Pakistan," BJP chief spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad said.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 20:20